13 Tactics for Reducing Stress as a Parent Coordinator

Adapted from the publication; The Parent Coordinator’s Manual

Congratulations!  You are a parent coordinator, one of the most important careers in education.  In your role as parent coordinator you will wear many different hats; “social worker”, “administrator”, “liaison”, “cheerleader”, “friend”, “counselor”, “ambassador”, “presenter”, “salesperson”, “problem prevention expert”, “event planner”, “advocate”, “mediator”, “customer service representative” and “scholar”.  You are an integral and vital part of your school and community; you have the power within your position to bridge gaps and build cohesive, long lasting family and school partnerships.  The most important “hat” you will wear as parent coordinator is that of being a leader.  You are in a leadership role and with this role comes much responsibility.  But even the best leaders can become overwhelmed and suffer from stress on the job.

Numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports the following:

  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
  • 25% view their job as the number one stressor in their lives
  • Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems

So what does stress look like for the parent coordinator?  Listed below are nine irreversible and damaging triggers or actions that are a result of stress and pressure experienced by even the best of parent coordinators.  Please try to avoid the following:

1.       Being defensive – accept your roles and responsibilities willingly and with a positive attitude

2.       Blaming others – be genuine and quick to admit your mistakes, ask for help and forgiveness and make the situation right

3.       Going for the quick fix – success takes time, talent, persistence, hard work and dedication, after all – “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”

4.       Demanding uncritical allegiance – allow all stakeholders to have a voice and an opinion, embrace diversity and cultural differences

5.       Ignoring suggestions for improvement – quality improvement is something you practice with others, there is always room for improvement and growth

6.       Insisting everything be an immediate priority – make a to do list, prioritize the list, and work efficiently and effectively towards completing each task, usually poor planning constitutes a crisis and an urgency for everything to become a priority…plan wisely

7.       Keeping your vision a secret – your mission and vision for a superior family engagement program should be well communicated with all stakeholders

8.       Becoming incapable of delegating responsibility- remember you are only one person and you need help, rely on the talents of others to assist with your roles and responsibilities

9.       Being rude, abrupt, and insulting – you are a good will ambassador and the customer service representative for your school and/or district, there is no room for negativity, bad manners and uncivilized behavior

As the parent coordinator, you will need to learn to recognize these harmful triggers and actions and attempt to reduce stress from your daily work environment.  This job is not for the faint hearted!  Below are five tips for dealing with stressful situations as the parent coordinator.

Recognize when you’re becoming stressed.  Your body will let you know if you’re stressed on the job.  Are your muscles or your stomach tight and/or sore?  Are your hands clenched?  Is your breath shallow?  Are you “forgetting” to breathe?  These are all signs that you might be stressed. 

Take a moment to calm down before making any final decisions.

  • Bring your senses to the rescue and quickly manage stress by taking a few deep breaths, clenching and relaxing muscles, turning on some calming music, getting a cup of coffee, or recalling a soothing, sensory-rich image, for example, the beach or your favorite vacation spot.  The best way to rapidly and reliably relieve stress is through the senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
     
  • Look for humor in the situation.  When used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress.  When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or amusing story.  Be sensitive to cultural differences and never use crude or derogatory humor, be professional!
     
  • Be willing to compromise.  Sometimes, if you can bend a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned.
     
  • The ability to manage your stress level while performing all of your duties and responsibility as the parent coordinator is critical to your effectiveness, personal health and overall attitude toward ensuring a successful family engagement program at your school or district.  Find your inner strength, rely on close colleagues, friends and family for support and maintain a healthy lifestyle to manage your stress and perfect your craft.  Your passion for engaging, equipping and empowering parents should always be your focus, never stress!

Need to relieve stress?  Register for the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit!  Thursday, March 22, 2018 we will host the extremely funny and delightful comedian; Gail Burns! Join us for a night of laughs and stress relief!  For more information visit our official Summit website at www.nfesummit.com

The Effects of Poverty on Children’s Ability to be Independent Thinkers

Adapted from the book: Family Engagement and Nurturing Children to be Independent Thinkers: an essential handbook for school administrators and teaching professionals

Research demonstrates that family engagement is a dynamic, interactive process that provides a pathway to student success.  Family engagement is a shared responsibility among families, community organizations and schools.  Families are core in the learning process of children and it takes commitment to actions of families and schools working together to support student success.  It is through this shared responsibility that schools reach out to engage families in meaningful ways to actively support their child’s learning and development.  Even though students may come from poverty, they can still be led in the right direction to becoming independent thinkers.

            Here are some ideas to encourage parents from poverty to become engaged in their child’s learning:

  • When planning programs at school for parents to attend, use the “museum format” rather than large group settings.  This encourages families to come out to the school and allows them to come and go to match their busy schedules.  This format has a welcoming atmosphere that is nonthreatening and gives families the freedom to move around to areas that interest them.
     
  • Use videos that are less than fifteen minutes in length to inform parents about important and helpful information they can use when helping their child at home.
     
  • Print materials should include pictures, graphics or drawings to help with understanding the message.   This will be less intimidating to parents who have difficulty reading.  Keep the information short, simple and to the point.  Avoid lengthy, text-based informational school flyers and papers because parents have limited time to read and might think the information is not related to their child.
     
  • Offer coffee as a welcoming gesture to reach families from home of poverty; coffee is frequently perceived as a sign of welcome.
  • Think about the needs of the whole family and allow children to come with their parents.  School children can help their parents to navigate the school building and help them to feel more comfortable.

It is important to take into consideration the various reasons for the lack of parental involvement and to be sensitive to the different needs that children have in their homes that are out of our control as educators.  Being knowledgeable of the research on children in poverty can make an impact on educational decisions that will affect student success and future goals.

For more innovative outreach ideas, register for the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit.  www.nfesummit.com

Celebrating Family Engagement Month

The month of November provides a wonderful opportunity for schools and districts around the nation to recognize and honor the significant role of families who collaborate as equal partners in their child’s education. 

fam engagement month logo.jpg

Family Engagement Month is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of successful family and school partnerships.  It is also a time to set ambitious goals to outreach effectively to more diverse families.  Data from the Census Bureau indicates that one out of five students speak a language other than English at home.  The changing demographics that we see in our schools emphasize the critical need for strong family and school partnerships.   Family Engagement Month provides schools, districts, and states the opportunity to share best practices to support effective family engagement and strategic outreach. 

In many states, the Governor will sign a proclamation in honor of Family Engagement Month to recognize the importance of these essential partnerships.  In addition to these proclamations, some states have created a variety of resources to assist schools and districts with activities to highlight and recognize families this month.  The Florida Department of Education - Office of Family Engagement has some of the best resources in the nation to celebrate Family Engagement Month.   These resources consist of a family engagement toolkit, a pledge for parents in different languages, flyers, logos, social media post templates, and a family engagement video contest. (Click here to view these resources)  These outstanding resources are extremely beneficial for schools around the nation seeking innovative ideas and activities to celebrate Family Engagement Month. 

If you are interested in learning about more creative ideas and strategies to support collaborative family and school partnerships, be sure to attend the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit (www.nfesummit.com) and learn revolutionary ideas from Florida’s fourth largest school district, Orange County Public Schools @OCPSnews.

The Right Answer to WHO and WHAT Could Mean Family Engagement Success

Adapted from Building a High Achieving School 3 C’s to Success

Tis the season for planning special events and spreading good will and holiday cheer!  When preparing for that holiday event you probably take into consideration two very important components to a successful gathering; who and what.  The same is true when planning special events at school.  Meaningful and impactful school events can have powerful and lasting effects when the entire school and community are brought together for a common purpose. 

Events can be social or non-academic, informative and academic, or appreciative, but consider making all events educational, engaging and empowering for all stakeholders.  Plan special events consistently throughout the year that stakeholders look forward to attending.  By constantly evaluating the level of interest, participation and success of each event, you will be ensuring the relevancy and impact that each special event has on stakeholders.  Do not get caught in the trap of “doing the same thing, year after year, and expecting greater results.”  Administrators and teachers sometimes get stuck in a rut doing the same special events at their schools, year after year, because that is what always has been done without really making the event “special” at all. Keeping with tradition is fine as long as stakeholders are receiving beneficial information and/or services and teachers feel supported and valued and students succeed.  If stakeholders are disengaged with the events, then it is time for a necessary change! 

Special events can be time consuming to plan and execute, but worth it when school-family-community partnerships are built, boosted and maintained as a result.  Finally, when planning the special event, keep in mind “who” needs to be engaged in the event and “what” is the purpose of the event.  Below is a list of possible suggestions for who to invite to special events at your school and what type of special events to implement during the school year to ensure maximum engagement.

WHO

So who needs to be invited to different events?  Consider the following individuals when hosting any school event:

  • Parent and/or primary care giver
  • Grandparent
  • Aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family members
  • Siblings
  • Foster parent
  • School Board members
  • PTA/PTO
  • Political leaders; town mayor, city council members, delegates, senators, governor
  • Community leaders; chamber of commerce president, CEOs, church council members, fire/police department chief, department of transportation official, college president, civic organizations’ board members, non-profit groups, television personalities, athletes, authors
  • Private citizens; those in the school’s neighborhood, philanthropists, doctors, retired professionals, volunteers
  • Business owners and partners

WHAT

Aligning the appropriate groups of stakeholders to the special events is the key to creating partners in education to help all students succeed. Consider the following list of events:

  • Non-Academic Events
  • Academic Events
  • Application Events
  • Carnival
  • Back to School Night
  • Multi-Cultural Awareness Dinner
  • Holiday Festival
  • Academic Fair
  • Volunteer Luncheon
  • Talent Show
  • Parent University
  • Military Family Recognition
  • Book Fair
  • Technology Night
  • Awards Assemblies
  • Sporting Event
  • Career Fair
  • Teacher Appreciation Week
  • Band Concert
  • Business Symposium
  • Grandparents’ Day
  • School Play
  • Literacy/Math Nights
  • Black History Month
  • Field Day
  • Parent Workshops
  • PTA/PTO Breakfast

These events, when well attended by the matching “who”, can be excellent networking opportunities for all stakeholders involved.  Be sure to recognize and honor those special guests in attendance and thank them for their continued support and efforts in helping your school achieve its goals.  Special events are a means to creating and building strong family-school-community partnerships which in turn build a better future for all of our students.

For more innovative outreach ideas, register for the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit.  www.nfesummit.com